tv American Artifacts U.S. Army Medical Advances CSPAN April 19, 2019 10:43pm-11:06pm EDT
department's film "democracy at work in puerto rico: profiling the island's history, culture and challenges." then sunday at 4:30 eastern, former u.s. secretary of state condoleezza rice on the changing role of u.s. democracy and foreign policy over the last 100 years. watch this weekend on the c-span networks. each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. next we tour the u.s. army medical department museum at fort sam houston in san antonio to see several advances made by army medics in the past 200 years. director george wunderlich shows us a civil war era electrotherapy machine, transport helicopters used during the vietnam war, and a unique contraption to combat hypothermia. >> i'd like to welcome you here
to the united states army medical department museum. you can see our regimental crest behind me, and that crest has a slogan on it or a motto that says, experience and progress. and today as we go through the museum, i'd like to show you some of the technological innovations which have truly made the military medical department what it is. i also want to show you something that a lot of people don't think about -- army medicine has touched the lives of almost every individual in the united states even though most have never served in the military. i think you'll be interested to see how your life has been affected by some of these incredible innovative changes. so here we are in our early galleries. this gallery covers the period from our founding in 1775 all the way through world war i in this section, and on the other side of the wall here, world war ii and eventually the korean conflict. we have everything from the
large objects like our ambulances to much smaller ones like in the case behind me. this case contains things you probably don't want to think about like urethra die lators for getting out stones, postmortem kits for the dissection of cadavers. but one of the things in here really changed your life today. it's in the back corner, fairly innocuous. it's a static electric generator. when we think of the civil war and we think of civil war surgery, we tend to think of surgery without anesthesia, which is actually not correct. most patients had general anesthesia. we think of no painkillers, but morphine and opium were regularly used. what we don't think about are specialty hospitals, and this particular object was used at a specialty hospital in philadelphia. during the american civil war, people like dr. william keen and sigh lus weir mitchell and
others were actually developing the origins of modern neurology. one of the problems they got to was a specific type of chronic pain which we still have problems with today. this chronic pain was a burning sensation that would never go away, and it exhibited itself in a number of patients during the civil war who had had severe injuries. the people at the turners lane hospital in philadelphia, people like weir and mitchell, began experimenting using morphine in a new way, actually injecting it deep into the tissues that were affected by the pain. but moreover, they used electricity, and in 1863, that meant one of these small electric generators, relying primarily on static. the idea was very simple. by interrupting the nerves with electricity, basically overpowering them if you will, and cutting that pain signal to the brain, they were able to calm the nerves.
and in conjunction with the morphine, they actually had a pretty good cure rate. it started us down the road to our modern pain relief systems. what do i mean by that? think about this. you can watch your television and see advertisements today for patches which can be placed on the body powered by small batteries that do exactly the same job. if you've undergone knee or joint replacement surgery or arthroscopic surgery, you may have actually been given one of these devices to put near your bed, placing two electrodes, and pumping electricity through that nerve center, we can actually dull the pain. reducing inflammation as well. this is not something we think of from 1863, and yet because of the innovations in 1863, it leads us to where we are today. just around the corner from here, i have a much larger, somewhat scarier version from the 1920s that will show us a
little bit of where this is all going. so in the civil war, we looked at a small device, and if you noticed on the side, it had a hand crank. very, very small. now, in the 1920s, just after world war i, we had large numbers of men who had chronic pain issues once again. this device actually plugs into the wall like a more modern appliance, and quite frankly it's a bit scarier looking, but it does the same general thing. the one difference is how do we apply the electricity? different types of wands, different types of medical electrodes were developed for this machine to allow it to deliver its electric current. and i have to tell you there are a number of these devices. you can sometimes see them at antique stores or on various programs that come up where they talk about quack medicine, where they would use devices like this to try and do everything from grow hair to make you more intelligent, and frankly that's not what they were for.
the army used these and medical professionals have continued to use them primarily for pain treatment and for working with muscles in an environment where we're trying to do rehabilitation. and for those things, the various attachments that you see here were actually used to great effect. you can see in the photograph behind the case here there's a woman in a dark dress. actually that's a navy blue dress with a white cap, and she is a rehabilitation specialist for the military. you can also see on the soldier a very, very large scar left over probably from shell fragmentation. what she is doing is applying an electrical current in order to help deaden the pain from the nerves that were damaged in that particular wound, bringing more relief than could be experienced really through just the use of analgesics or narcotic drugs. the electricity plus the drug therapy brought much greater response than either one separately.
and, again, it brings us to our modern time. but rather than continuing down the line with this, i think there are a couple of other pieces of technology we may want to look at that also have an effect on daily life.were other pieces of technology that we may want to look at that also have an effect on daily life. we've looked electricity and that is kind of a marvel enough. but now we can need to get to something i think speaks directly to modern america and its understanding of army medicine. and with that began for a lot of us, let's face it was a television show called máaásáh about the korean conflict. korea is the first time we are going to have a large-scale use of emergency evacuation of patients really from the battlefield by helicopter. and i say not the first but the first major use. believe it or not, there was a
version even earlier than this goes back to world war ii. but it was only used a few times in the south pacific. this is the one that is going to change the world. this helicopter, the age 13 has as you see a number of limitations. 1st of all the patient is writing outside. you can imagine at a time when this technology was brand-new that the fear that must've been in the hearts of the wounded man who has been picked up from the battlefield and is going to right under the skids and all he can see are the rotors, spinning over his head. although it has two litters in it and in fact in the koch cockpit has two sticks. this is referred to as the drop of a solo pilot. and the men that flew these are called solo pilots because this helicopter, unlike what we saw on máaásáh can only pick up one patient. and accommodate one pilot. which means there is no patient care being given.
this is basic transportation. in the early part of korea, in fact, these machines didn't have radios had almost no instruments and in fact the batteries were so weak you couldn't start the engine on a cold day without help. which also meant they had no lights. if you flew at night at all, and we have talked with some pilots who flew these, you carried a flashlight. and you were using it to land. this particular machine which has a light and radio and actors, probably from the end of the korean conflict or a few years earlier. basically the same machine. very primitive, very, very small radius of operation. fairly slow. not a lot of power. but it started a revolution. the age 13 originally was not developed for an evacuation vehicle. it was originally developed so that artillery observers could
get over the terrain. it morphed into this. it was developed from the get go to be a true multirole piece of equipment. it could carry rocket pods, machine guns, cargo and soldiers and it was also specifically designed from the beginning that it would have a version that would allow us to have litters. patients could lie on the litters and lie on the open floor they could also take these seats back in the back. the lifting capability of this machine, not with a piston engine but rather with a turbine engine gave it incredible lifting power. now we do have two pilots. we do have lights. it will start in any weather. we have a flight crew that sits behind the pilot. that is not the only difference. you see, if you go back to the korean war, what we have is men flying outside of the aircraft.
this weekend put inside. you were not suggested to the weather. you are not subjected to the fearful ride of hanging out in midair. but there is also a change of theory. one of the things we are doing is we have improved the capability of the medic in the field. ity of the medic in the before we load them on the aircraft, but now we can put treatment crew on the aircraft to continue treatment in flight. we have long-range radios that allow information to be taken from the helicopter and taken to the hospital see them men will be taken. and once they arrive, because they know they are coming, it is not just o'reilly saying i hear the rotors, they know they are coming because of radio in the know how many. this communication platform is also going to improve the outcome of the patient's. being able to take more men faster and greater distance
with much more lifting capacity . with a full crew for navigation, communication and patient treatment. this is a game changer. and for a lot of us it is the first thing we think of when we think of medevac. we need to think of one other thing. can you imagine, today, not seeing a medevac helicopter landing at say a bad crash scene or a mass casualty incident. in fact, the huey was the first one used for that in 1974. at the end of the vietnam conflict the program is called mast or medevac assistance for safety and traffic which allows local government officials, highway patrols and police departments to call in medical even back from posts that had medical evacuation from the army. we have that capability and that now becomes the capability
of what we have today. these helicopters and their crews would eventually turn into the paramedics and helicopters we know today. this changed our world. as a matter of fact on a personal level, the descendent of this helicopter saved my wife's life when she had a massive brain hemorrhage. before we leave the story of the helicopter, it is not good enough for us to think about just technology. if you go back again and i always go back to the statement the regimental coat of arms. what do we learn from that? back in korea we learned we needed a better piece of equipment and better technology. what we learned in vietnam was very different. a man i the name of major kelly in 1964 would come in and what he saw as the army was struggling. struggling with this idea of
helicopters, they are expensive and cost a lot of money to put in the air. they lost cost a lot of money to build. and someone say, we need to arm these ships. we need to put as many helicopters into battle as possible. and others were saying we need to reserve those being used for medical evacuations just for medical evacuation. during this tug-of-war, early on in the experience of vietnam kelly said to the pilots, our enemy surrounds us everywhere. he didn't mean the northern vietnamese soldiers. what he meant where people who are trying to pull the helicopters away from them. they said there was only one day way to survive the mission. we have to survive by making ourselves indispensable. that meant we fly in any weather. whatever the work is capable of. we will go anywhere to get
someone out. we will not stop until a life is saved. in fact, he would die. his last words being, when i have your wounded. the fact is, he changed how america saw evacuation. and he went under the call sign dust off. to this day our medical evacuation unit are called dust off. one of the most important parts are the technology but the other is the attitude. and we see it in quotes from european leaders who fought with us in places like afghanistan. to make comments. i actually read this one from a french soldier. you have the medical evacuation aspect to come after you no matter what. no matter how bad the weather. no matter how dark the night. no matter how far or inhospitable, you are going home. you're going to live. what does for morale is it makes the american military even more lethal to at the series. because the morale and esprit de corps that this piece of
equipment, run by the dedicated pilots and crews that operate them, he gives us an edge to the battlefield because those guys know they are coming back. and they will not be left. technology is one thing. attitude is everything else. and the crews here have both. >> you might remember back in the very beginning of the program where you are shown the regimental crest. and it said, experience yet progress. experience and progress. this artifact gives an insight into both as part of a very nontechnological innovation. it is a box. it is just a corporate cardboard box with a hairdryer picket is as low-tech as you can go. but yet the story is one of the most important in the museum.
let me explain 1st of all the need. if you go back to world war i, we weren't doing fluid replacements. we cannot give you blood in the field. if you lost a lot of blood from a serious injury, as your blood pressure went down so too would your temperature. and you could go into hamrick shock. which results in hypothermia, the loss of body temperature. the loss of the body to have the ability to keep the temperature up. this is a terrible situation. world war i we had a solution for that. it was literally a wooden box. with electrical heating coils running through it. this is probably not the safest thing in the world like a toaster oven for people. but the idea was by putting a person in this we could warm the body put temperature and bring them back from shock. in world war ii we did not need this because we started using plasma and whole blood. plasma, right in the field at
the point of injury. the problem today is we have a new set of circumstances. the blading cause by the loss of multiple limbs has never been known before. because we didn't have the body armor to protect the heart and the lungs. now that we have body armor, literally a person can lose both arms and both legs in total or in part and still live. if we begin to give them fluids, their blood pressure will go up and they will bleed faster. so in the circumstances we are actually going back to the old circumstance when we have the possibility of hemorrhagic shock and hypothermia. we have a commercial product for this call the bear hug or. what happens when the bear hug isn't available? when the bear hugger is still en route to the country. a cardboard box and a hair driver dryer is the chief cover. as you read on, the details of
the patients cared for simply by taking a box and the knowledge and understanding of what had to happen, figuring out how to put the put the hairdryer, was setting to use and how to pad the box in such a way that the patient could be brought out of hemorrhagic shock. the temperatures of the people are right here. 92 degree temperature brought up to 98.6. 89.9 degrees temperature brought back. this is innovation at its best. it is innovation of the moment. and at the 28th cash hospital in baghdad this box was used to save life. the fact we had one before doesn't matter. what matters is that we understand that lessons can be learned. we understand that by the constant practicing of the art, the constant training in the craft of medicine, we can save lives. with something as simple sometimes as a hairdryer and a
card board box. whether we're talking about electricity in the 1860s, whether we're talking about pushing that technology forward in the 1920s and '30s to today. or if we are talking about something as complicated as aircraft. the one thing that the story really culminates in for us, it is all about one thing. it is about saving a patient. this is patient centered technology to save the life of a warrior so that army can save the nation. at time of war this is truly what this museum and all this collection is about. i cannot thank you enough to taking the time to be with us today and see at least a few of our technological innovations. >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website, c- span.org/history.
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